“It was very exciting to have had the experience and to be considered (for the award),” said Turner, a sixth-grade teacher at Excelsior Middle School in Byron. “But I’m also really proud of the fact that I made a speech in front of hundreds of people and didn’t make a total mess of it. I’m very grateful for that.”
The California League of Middle Schools (CLMS) honored Turner last month during a dinner and awards ceremony at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. Invited along with nine other finalists from Region 4 (which includes Contra Costa) as well as 10 additional regions throughout the state, Turner was chosen in part for her excellence in the classroom and commitment to education.
But Excelsior Principal Dr. Charles Miller said he nominated Turner for all those attributes and more: “Jeanne has a variety of characteristics that made her a perfect nominee, including her professionalism and leadership. She is a leader amongst our sixth-grade teachers and has been a key player in revising our curriculum-aligning documents and our pacing guides to make sure we are where we need to be with the state. She is a wonderful educator and very deserving (of the nomination).”
The CLMS Educator of the Year award is given each year to 11 California educators who have best represented educational excellence and made significant strides in classroom reform at the middle school level. Up to 10 finalists from each region are honored locally, and one person is chosen from the finalists to represent each region at the CLMS Middle Level Educator of the Year annual conference in February. Nominees can be teachers, administrators, counselors or other certified personnel.
Turner has been a teacher in the Byron School District since 2005 and is one of Excelsior’s three sixth-grade humanities teachers, which means that she teaches English, language arts and social studies as core subjects.
For Turner, a self-proclaimed “involved” teacher, the joy of education is about the journey, the discovery and the all-important “ah-ha” moment.
“I’m passionate about helping students get to that place where their eyes light up when they finally understand something,” said Turner, a Discovery Bay resident and mother of two teenage sons. “For me, that is the pay at the end of the day. My job is fun, exciting and different every day. I love learning, and it’s fun to be able to share it with the students.”
And while Turner was not chosen to represent her region at the annual CLMS conference (the winner came from a middle school in Alameda County), she says the cliché about the nomination being enough is true.
“It was my first time to be nominated and it was very exciting and so humbling to be considered among all these phenomenal people,” said Turner. “I love what I do and it was an honor, truly, to be considered. It was really wonderful just to be considered.”